Strange title for a blog post, I know, but lately I’ve been reflecting on the illustrious thigh gap. A small gap between the thighs, pre-determined by the width of your hips and exaggerated by extreme weight loss, somehow comes to gather a meaning reflective of self-worth. In the anorexic community, having a thigh gap is a trophy of achievement, somehow launching you into a higher tier of being, respected by the mentally ill, and pushed into a new category of the ultimate anorexic. How strange, you might say. But after years of double checking my legs in every mirror, standing with my toes together, pushing my knees apart so much they couldn’t sit straight, I began to equate losing my thigh gap to losing my identity, my status and my beauty. When my thighs touched, I was nothing.
Looking back, clearly its a ridiculous motion, and yet it still feels weird as I walk down the street, heightened sensitivity to my own body parts, a strangely unpleasant sensation. However, there is that sense of a new kind of achievement; of beating my demons, of embracing curves and flesh and health. Of no longer feeling every bone and atrophied muscle, and quoting the circumference of my thighs to how worthy i was of happiness. And that is a bloody miracle.
I will end this ramble with a stunning sketch by Mirrin Hegharty, which to me shows the extremes of body dysmorphia that came part and parcel with my eating disorder. Within seconds I could see both bodies in the mirror, both with infinite meanings to a twisted anorexic brain. I also think this drawing shows the complexity of our society, in that we have warped views of a healthy body, that actually doesn’t take health into account at all, only aesthetics, and this leads to millions of people pushing their bodies to the extreme.
“Listen to me. Your body is not a temple. Temples can be destroyed and desecrated. Your body is a forest – thick canopies of maple trees and sweet scented wild flowers sprouting in the underwood. You will grow back, over and over, no matter how badly you have been devastated. “
– Beau Christopher Taplin